Attorney General Knudsen calls on YouTube to stop censoring firearms-related speech
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen today called on YouTube to stop censoring legal firearm-related content on its platform, restore videos it removed which were all related to legal products and activities, and to “start acting like the platform it claims to be, instead of the publisher that it wishes it was.”
In a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Attorney General Knudsen explained that the company recently removed a video from The Rogue Banshee’s channel, a Montana-based content creator, that provided instructions on how to finish construction of an “80% lower.” Even though incomplete lower receivers are not regulated as firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and are legal, five Democrat U.S. Senators wrote a letter to YouTube asking them to censor and remove about a dozen videos related to them. YouTube complied.
“The reason these senators pressured your company to remove the video, instead of asking law enforcement to investigate the conduct, is because it violated no laws. Instead, these senators circumvented the democratic process and pressured a private corporation to do what the federal government will not,” Attorney General Knudsen wrote. “It is past time that you considered the consequences of those actions for your company’s bottom line and withdrew your complicity from the trampling of rights disfavored by D.C. Democrats.”
YouTube’s actions of removing legally protected speech and legal underlying conduct fit its pattern of censoring conservative viewpoints.
“YouTube’s actions make it increasingly clear that it wishes to step outside of its purported role as a value-neutral platform and into the domain of politics. By continuing to travel down this path, YouTube makes clear that Americans’ rights are under attack not by elected majorities, but by a political minority’s insular allies in Silicon Valley. That state of affairs is undemocratic, anti-constitutional, and unacceptable,” Knudsen’s letter says.
Citing examples of Florida and Texas laws intended to limit the ability of Big Tech to silence speech it disfavors, Attorney General Knudsen also warned that other states including Montana could soon follow suit.
“Increasingly, legal scholars are recognizing that social media sites may not both serve as a town square and exclude disfavored political speech. Scholars on both sides of the political aisle are growing increasingly uneasy about the monopolistic power of Big Tech and are signaling the need for legal reform,” Attorney General Knudsen wrote. “So long as YouTube flaunts its protected status as a platform and openly discriminates against conservative views, these calls will grow increasingly difficult to ignore. Many States have taken action to end Big Tech’s tyranny over our political discourse, and perhaps it is time that Montana did the same.”
Click here to read the full letter.